Windows Phone design, evolution and future concepts (updated)
Graphic design has certainly been one of the faster changing professions in the last decade, but like all other design disciplines it is a part of today’s global crisis. We have always designed for the future: in hope of increased pleasure, comfort, power, efficiency and return on investment. This time around we must design because of the past. We must counter a legacy of designs that left us with too much clutter, misinformation, pollution and dangerous inventions. We have progressively learnt to adapt to a world of increased acceleration and complexity. It is now time for the designed world to adapt back to humanity and for us to bring solutions of slowness and simplicity. Innovation should be defined not by novelty, but by sustainability.
With the introduce of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft totally abandon the old interfaces. Years ago Windows Mobile platform are trying to bring up the standard Windows desktop experience to the small resistive touchscreen, but now Windows Phone has a very different purpose – with clean, simple and convenient “rough” interface. The Metro interface. I’m sure you heard the news, that the name “Metro” – the name for Microsoft’s new tile-based design language, it’s reportedly going to be switching to simply “Windows 8 UI”, or something different. From several days the company prohibits its employees to use the name and recommend to the developers of applications in the Windows Marketplace to avoid the name “Metro” as part of the apps names. But I still prefer to use “Metro” for the new style that change the phone experience.
From an aesthetic viewpoint is essential that Metro does not copy the real world – it’s not skeuomorph. The Wikipedia definition for skeuomorph is element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material – in a word – imitation of the real world. Not only that the Windows Phone platform does not use textures, seams and copies of (outdated) articles of life, but the new interface language does not rely on shadows and reflections. It’s beautiful, fast, and fluid design. Windows Phone has a bold new style that’s sleek and modern, and it’s been beautifully designed. From the clean look of the words on your screen to the way apps animate, the experience is new and the way it works is intuitive, so you can get started right away. Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 will continue to use this new interface, no matter how will named.
Unfortunately I can’t say the same things for the most applications in Marketplace. There are a lot of intuitiveness and ugly apps. I will quote the biggest supporter of skeuomorph interface Steve Jobs:
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
But he is right in his words and they can be used for Windows Phone, too. The bad truth is that there are apps not only bad-looking, but also non-working. Not only for Windows Phone, they are a lots of these zombie apps and for Android and for iOS.
I think with the WP system resources and the Metro idea can be made great looking and well working apps. What is the answer?
The answer is design. The app’s team needs to understand that people will choose one app or another according app’s design first. Most of the people looks the screenshots first. So – it’s critically important the design and the core to work together. I am designer and I love the concept of “metro” design and believe that it has the potential to bring a beautiful story to Windows Phone, and potentially millions of people. This is Microsoft moving beyond battleship grey buttons for its developer base, and all we need is just a little extra help to get there.
If metro was inspired by the transport, just remember that there’s some awful looking transit out there. A few misaligned margins and your app’s going to look like a rusty truck. Just a little maintenance every time you create a page, check-in a page, or look over your app before submitting to the Windows Phone Marketplace will not only yield a good-looking app – but will probably get you some good recognition, too.
I prepare this article from a long time ago and I think now it’s the time – together with the most significant waves of product launches in Microsoft’s history to change my concepts too. It’s not only important to change the operating system and the system apps, but it’s critically important all developers to do that with their apps. And all start with new look.
This is an incredibly exciting year for Microsoft as they prepare to release new versions of nearly all of our products. They made a really good job with all of their products – Windows, Phone, Office, XBOX, SkyDrive, Store, Outlook and others. From Windows 8 to Windows Phone 8 to new Store services to the next version of Office, you will see a common look and feel across these products providing a familiar and seamless experience on PCs, phones, tablets and TVs. This wave of new releases is not only a reimagining of our most popular products, but also represents a new era for Microsoft.
So, what’s next? I make concepts for 1800PocketPC almost a year, so it’s time for improve and new concepts. From now I’ll make six type of publications, with a specific design and content for each of them:
Build an idea – post for collecting ideas and suggestion about the concept
Concept series – concept for a new Windows Phone application, design and functions
PRO Concept series – concept for a Windows Phone application especially for professional and advanced users
Next level concepts – developing, design and productivity evolution of existing application for Windows Phone
Experimental build – hardware concept and design
Wallpaper series – wallpapers for the lockscreen, usually self-made (not always)
I’m really hope to enjoy my articles and concepts. I know that I can’t make perfect concept every time, but is important to try – because the future of the platform is in our hands.
Updated and edited: August 26, 2012
Copyright notes: In the article are used some 3rd party images and texts. All raster images belongs to their owners.
I want to thank Jeff Wilcox and Darin Dimitrov.